With Arsenal’s striking options lacking players with proven aerial strength, and Wenger’s preferred slow possession hoarding attacking approach and his desire to have his side compress the game into the opponent’s final third, denying Arsenal’s mobile forwards the space to be effective, I was genuinely shocked that Arsenal and Wenger sanctioned the sale of the clubs one physically imposing striker who actually possessed the ability to thrive in a crowed penalty box – Olivier Giroud.
Giroud could best be described as a physical penalty box striker, with an exceptional first touch and strong heading capabilities.
While often criticised for his lack of speed (which was never his strength), Giroud managed to score 73 Premier League goals in his 6 seasons with the Gunners at and average of 15 goals per season in those seasons where he started at least 15 Premier League matches.
The big Frenchman was also very creative on the rare occasions Wenger instructed the team to use Giroud as an outlet to execute one-twos in order for Arsenal to create shooting opportunities in the opposition’s often crowded penalty box. In total he finished his Arsenal career with 23 Premier League assist.
Aerially, he was also very strong, averaging 3 successful aerial duels per match.
Despite being seemingly perfectly suited to Wenger’s desired tactical
approach (in that Giroud could effectively link with Arsenal’s midfielders when they attempted to penetrate the opposition’s penalty box as well as providing Arsenal with a strong aerial option when the Gunners were (frequently) unable to play through the opposition’s defence), Arsenal simply failed to play to his strength more often than not.
His departure from Arsenal is definitely in Giroud’s best interest, as a delusional Wenger had marginalised him in preference of more mobile strikers, who ironically don’t compliment Wenger’s preferred tactics.
I wish Giroud all the best at Chelsea and I hope that he can thrive from the crosses of Alonso and Moses and the quick interplay with the likes of Hazard, Pedro and Willian.